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Cordimancy Paperback – December 15, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Daniel Hardman grew up along the shores of Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin, wearing Oshkosh B'Gosh overalls before they were fashionable. He consumed a steady diet of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, Rafael Sabatini, Orson Scott Card, and Lloyd Alexander as he moved around the midwest. Daniel served as a missionary in New Mexico and Texas, where he came to love the Spanish language and Latin and Native American cultures. He studied computational linguistics in grad school and also holds an MBA from Brigham Young University. He works as a security researcher, using machine learning and artificial intelligence to catch bad guys on the internet. Daniel and his wife Linda live in Utah. They are the parents of seven children, six of whom are adopted.
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This book is right at home in the triangle subtended by the works of C.S. Lewis, Brandon Sanderson, and J.R.R. Tolkien--my three favorite fantasy authors.
This book is C.S. Lewis-like in the sense that it has profound lessons about real life and behavior that play out in a fantasy context. These are not quaint Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul-like aphorisms, but insights into human nature that stay with you and keep you thinking. I haven't found a fantasy book like that for a long time--perhaps since I read Till We Have Faces. The legend of the two sisters recounted by Paka reminded me of the two sisters waging a war of annihilation in The Magician's Nephew ("the one deplorable word"!).
But the grip and pace of this book are closer to Brandon Sanderson, as well as the system of magic. To be clear, Sanderson's magical systems are so rule-driven that you can almost picture a gas tank with magic remaining at any given point. This book is not quite like that, but it does have an articulable magic system, with a sense for the cost and limits of the magic used. As someone who has read a lot of good and bad fantasy, it is more satisfying to me when a system of magic has understandable limitations. Cordimancy also has more vivid fight scenes than I have found in Lewis's novels--again, not quite the clear play-by-play of a Sanderson fight scene, but more than just generalized descriptions.
There is some element of epic legend in this book that is best comparable, I think, to Tolkien's works. You get a sense for the ancient magic that has scarred the land with the Rift, and it makes you think of the ancient tales and cursed places in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Dark and edifying at the same time.
Daniel Hardman's strongest point--where I think he excels Sanderson, Lewis, and Tolkien--is in his character growth. To be clear, all of the aforementioned authors are masters of character development (and Daniel Hardman is, too). But in terms of *growth* of a character, I think that Cordimancy does a more believable, satisfying job of telling about a change of heart than the works of the aforementioned three. (Till We Have Faces, mentioned above, might be a strong contender.)
I'm a huge Sanderson fan, and I liked this more than all of the Sanderson books I have read. I got this as a Christmas present for my brother-in-law, and I hope he enjoys it.
The story is polished, has the right amount of detail, and is much more thought-provoking than the typical speculative fiction.
The various cultures and races are well thought through and presented in the book. Interactions between races are complex yet woven together very smoothly.
The characters face many of the same issues we face today – ambition of power, serious and vile abuse, the need to protect and rescue those who are truly helpless, healing, relying upon others, tolerance, diversity, and on and on…
I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story that may cause you to stop and consider your own perspective on life.